Classification of Vowels from Imagined Speech with Convolutional Neural Networks

Markus-Oliver Tamm, Yar Muhammad, Naveed Muhammad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Imagined speech is a relatively new electroencephalography (EEG) neuro-paradigm, which has seen little use in Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) applications. Imagined speech can be used to allow physically impaired patients to communicate and to use smart devices by imagining desired commands and then detecting and executing those commands in a smart device. The goal of this research is to verify previous classification attempts made and then design a new, more efficient neural network that is noticeably less complex (fewer number of layers) that still achieves a comparable classification accuracy. The classifiers are designed to distinguish between EEG signal patterns corresponding to imagined speech of different vowels and words. This research uses a dataset that consists of 15 subjects imagining saying the five main vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and six different words. Two previous studies on imagined speech classifications are verified as those studies used the same dataset used here. The replicated results are compared. The main goal of this study is to take the proposed convolutional neural network (CNN) model from one of the replicated studies and make it much more simpler and less complex, while attempting to retain a similar accuracy. The pre-processing of data is described and a new CNN classifier with three different transfer learning methods is described and used to classify EEG signals. Classification accuracy is used as the performance metric. The new proposed CNN, which uses half as many layers and less complex pre-processing methods, achieved a considerably lower accuracy, but still managed to outperform the initial model proposed by the authors of the dataset by a considerable margin. It is recommended that further studies investigating classifying imagined speech should use more data and more powerful machine learning techniques. Transfer learning proved beneficial and should be used to improve the effectiveness of neural networks.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


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